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Four Fires

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  2,950 Ratings  ·  170 Reviews
In a small town like any other small town around Australia live the Maloneys. They are a fifth-generation Australian family of Irish Catholic descent who are struggling to reach the first run of the social ladder. The Maloneys are a family you won't forget: a strong mother, a father broken by war, three boys and two girls, one of whom has an illegitimate daughter. Each of ...more
Unknown Binding, 777 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Viking Australia
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Robert Delikat
Dec 30, 2010 Robert Delikat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I believe that Four Fires by Bryce Courtenay is a phenomenal book all by itself. It is not, however, a book I probably would have gravitated to nor enjoyed as much in paper form. I picked this selection based on reviews and particularly the reference in Audible reviews to the narrator Humphrey Bower. I was not disappointed. To call Mr. Bower a narrator does not do him justice. An actor? Okay, that works. He flawlessly plays the roles of so many of the characters in this book. And that would make ...more
Sami D.
Jul 02, 2012 Sami D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before reading this book, I consulted the reviews on to get an idea of what it was about. Most said that this was just a story about an Irish Catholic family who began by being the social pariyah of a small australian town called Yankallie to prominence. However, I disagree. It is more than that.

Mole, the main protagonist of the story, recounts the Malony's rise from bottom of the social ladder to a prominent and respected family in Australia. Speaking from a first person's perspective
Kate Harris
Dec 29, 2007 Kate Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone

Though I rarely read solely based by Author, I just finished my fourth Bryce Courtenay (and we all know the Courtenay page average equates a normal 2-3 novels) and I must say I can’t wait to devour the next! I started with “The Power of One” at age 13 and yet has a book surpassed as my title favorite. It took me more than a decade to discover that indeed there was a sequel “Tandia” and that Mr. Courtenay in fact has written a myriad of novels! Sadly, it seems that only “The Power of One” has pen
Jun 15, 2013 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bryce Courtenay has never disappointed me. His novels are the kind that you simply cannot put down. Thankfully, at the end of the first book in a series, you just know that he will follow it up with a sequel - he simply can't leave us hanging there! I am on a mission to read every single one of his book and I've made a pretty good dent in it. I started with The Potato Factory, which is a very good place to start. I was completely engrossed in it and when finished, I could not get my hands on eno ...more
Gil Bradshaw
Aug 23, 2012 Gil Bradshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best way to do a Bryce Courtenay is via audiobook with Humphrey Bowers narrating. It turns the book into an unforgettable experience. Bowers is such a great actor that he makes the characters come alive. Courtenay is such a great storyteller that their combination is fantastic.

This book isn't as dark as The Power of One and Tandia. It has less swearing and isn't so violent. However, it's a great book that focuses on Australia by focusing on a large family in the bush. Courtenay develops char
This is only my second book by Bryce Courtenay, but already he is establishing himself as one of my favourite writers. Though FOUR FIRES and THE POWER OF ONE (the books I have read thus far) are rather lengthy, they truly resonate and the characters Courtenay creates in both feel so real I miss them when I finish.
The story centers around the Maloney family in a small town in Australia. They don't have it easy, and are definitely a multi-faceted bunch, but they make the best of what they have and
Annie Oosterwyk
I can't help myself, I love everything by Courtenay. This story was as rich as The Potato Factory, but not at all redundant. The Maloney family saga details every member and each is worthy of their own TV show. Courtenay writes as if they are each his main character and they are all so different! I really can't say enough about this author. I have just downloaded another by him and can't wait to listen.
Apr 24, 2013 Debby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've downloaded the unabridged audible version of almost all of Bryce Courtenay's books. The primary reason is that Humphrey Bower is one of my favorite audible book narrators. He makes a story come alive with his uncanny ability to change accents, and even makes me believe I'm hearing a woman's voice. As for the story-- this one is very epic. I had just finished listening to "Jessica" which is one of the saddest stories I've heard in a long time. With this book, I found the Maloney family to be ...more
Jun 10, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A grand, sweeping novel about the Maloneys, an Irish Catholic family living in the bush in Southeastern Australia. It picks up in the mid-1950s and takes us through the 1990s, but its span of characters also includes "Mr. Baloney", who served in WW I and his son Tommy's horrific experience as a POW in the Pacific Theatre in WW II. The tale is skillfully narrated by "Mole" Maloney, one of the five children of iron-willed Nancy who in so many ways reminded me of my mother's family of three very di ...more
Sep 06, 2008 C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
When I first read this, I would have given it five stars. It's another of Bryce Courtenay's carbon-copy exercises in sentimentality. This particular story traces the life of one family (he does enjoy the family dynasty trope, doesn't he?) through the eyes of, I think, Mitch. One family member ends up a boxer, one a successful fashion designer, one founds a business empire based on garbage-collection trucks. The only one who comes to relatively nothing is Mitch, who does nothing but fight valiant ...more
Kathleen Hagen
Four Fires, by Bryce Courtenay, Narrated by Humphrey Bowers, Produced by Bolinda Publishing, downloaded from

This is a three-generation family narrative covering 100 years, in Australian history, the majority of the narrative taking place from 1956 to about 1964. Nancy Maloney is the mother of all five children in this narrative, but three of them are by different fathers. Her own husband fathered two, but only one in wedlock, so there’s only one legitimate Maloney. Tommy Maloney, th
Mar 29, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book was a complete slog to get through -- but only due to the length and the level of detail of that everything is described in. The story is incredibly disjointed at times, moving back and forth until you don't know which way is up, and then the chapter ends and you have to start again. There weren't many plot twists, some that I saw coming, and others that I didn't. I did really enjoy this book, the "climax" of the book left me entirely speechless, and the resolution and ending left me c ...more
Mar 10, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I *loved* this book! Admittedly, I listened to it, and the reader, Humphrey Bower, is more an actor than a reader. He made the book come alive as he adopted the tones and accents of men and women, boys and girls, all with their accented English (Yiddish, German, Japanese, Indian, Irish, Australian...). This is a story of a wildly unusual Australian family surviving by intelligence and drive and endless courage. A great read/listen! I was sorry to have it end.
What a story! This was my first audiobook and Humphrey Bower's narration made it a real treat. Some of the war stuff was tough to get through, though. I generally avoid war stories, but this had a lot of family saga stuff mingled in. In fact, the war stuff doesn't really come in until the second half of the book. Overall, a worthwhile read that kept me entertained while I logged around 60 miles walking round and round my backyard.
Jana Ulrich
Jan 02, 2014 Jana Ulrich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my alltime favorite books, this was a re-read for me in preparation for an upcoming book club discussion. Mole Maloney's narrative and perspective of his life in the Australian Bush is bittersweet. I laughed and cried and laughed some more. There are lots of layers here and Courtenay, as usual, weaves a colorful and bittersweet story from well-researched history.
Mar 27, 2015 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy the sagas Courtenay seems to write. This was no exception and I had a fondness for most of the characters and their individual storylines.
I was slightly disappointed that he chose to wrap it all up so quickly at the end. As if he felt he'd written enough and needed to close.
I will read more of his work for sure
Really loved this book, especially the first half. Second half was good, but not as tight and felt like he was trying too hard to tie up loose ends. Bryce Courtenay is becoming a favorite author. Amazing characters that you absolutely fall in love with--great metaphors about making the best of what life deals you that stick!
Dec 25, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional. Listen to this great story and just enjoy! So much to learn and appreciate in a Bryce Courtney tale.
Dec 15, 2016 Cubs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very slow burner but made me cry in the end.
Feb 17, 2015 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Bryce Courtenay blockbuster which follows a poor Irish Catholic Australian family, as it emerges from poverty, discrimination, alcoholism & crime to take its proper place in society. The Maloneys are the town garbage collectors. Nancy, the very obese matriarch, runs the ship with hard work & defiance of the powers that be. Her husband is a petty thief & alcoholic who is often in jail or away on a debauch, in spite of which Nancy remains devoted to him & intimates that the ...more
Sep 22, 2013 Kp rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is not bad but is too long and rambling. I loved Bryce’s Courtenay’s “The Power of One,” and I enjoyed “Tandia,” but now he has gone off the deep end with a long saga that tries to include too many characters. Also, his propensity to have the goodness of the main characters shine through no matter what their humble situation is, in this book, maudlin and over the top.

I will say that each of the various stories did, at times, really engage me and pull on my heartstrings. The narrator,
Sharon Harvey
Sep 13, 2016 Sharon Harvey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favorite books, along with Courtenay's "The Power of One." His ability to captivate the essence of each character makes this an enjoyable and captivating read. Heartache, humour and a little Australiana thrown in. Though it is a long book I did not find it a chore. Now I must find "The Potato Factory." It has been too long since I read one of Courtenay's books.
Mar 26, 2015 Kirsti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alright, so this is one of my favorite books ever. It's definitely my favorite Courtenay book. However, this time I didn't read this book, but listened to the audio book with my partner instead. I've probably read the book five or more times, but it was truly a pleasure to listen to this book read by this talented voice.

Basically there is nothing like the epic story telling of Bryce Courtenay. He wrote some of the epic stories of my teenage years, The Potato Factory (and sequels) Jessica and of
Charmaine Elliott
Apr 20, 2014 Charmaine Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Humphrey Bowers is an outstanding narrator complimenting Bryce Courtenay as a consummate story teller. The Bryce genre is becoming somewhat predictable for me in the sense that great adversity always seems to result in great achievement. And this book follows the theme. From garbage to renowned Doctor, Designer, business person....I find it a touch unbelievable, yet, light and agreeable listening. It's Ok to switch out for large tracts and pick up the threads quite easily. Couched in the humour, ...more
Joe Constantine
Sep 04, 2015 Joe Constantine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fantastic historical novel by Bryce Courtenay. Yet again he brings his characters to life in such a way that it is impossible not to feel their struggle and will them on to success.

The theme of the determined underdog striving to overcome the odds is a common thread in Bryce Courtenay novels. The story of the Maloneys' long fight to escape their notoriety and rise above their station in life, as told by young Mole, is one such tale. The difference with Four Fires, however, is that the s
Jan 25, 2016 Mhinchley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
My neighbour recommended this book to me. I don't generally like (or am interested) in popular fiction, but I did read Courtenay's Power of One when I was at school (many moons ago) and I thought I'd give this book a go.

I was quite keen on reading a book set in the Australian landscape. The story follows the lives of an Irish-Australian catholic family in the 1960s, who are the town's garbage collectors and are struggling to even reach the first rung of the town's social ladder. The story is to
Sep 02, 2007 craige rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Australio-philes, people who adored The Power of One and want more from Courtenay
Shelves: bookmooched, fiction
It wasn't the best book on earth. But you know how when you read a book that you absolutely adore, you read everything else you can get your hands on by that author? And when the author is Australian, making it doubly hard to get his books, it feels like quite a coup to get them? Well, I'm sure you get the idea. I'm beginning to see the themes that Courtenay likes to use (boxing being a key one, and there is another one that I will not mention, in case you are going to read either this or The Po ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
'The Four Fires'is one of those books that, looking back, I am glad i read and may re-read one day but any recommendation of mine will come with a comment. The first hundred or so pages did little to entice me but, after falling in love with 'Jessica'I was determined to get through the initial descriptional scene setting and character establishment. Bryce Courtenay establishes family bonds well and as the narrator's relationship with his father developed I found myself reading until 4am, particu ...more
Feb 20, 2008 Marissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good god, loved this one. LOVED it!!! I truely hope if anyone onthis earth is given a ridiculously long life, I sincerely hope it's Bryce. i don't know how he came up with this fmaily- but I loved evry member so dearly!! Not just 1 main character but this time the story is about the lives of one entire dysfunctional family. You can't help but love them for their weakness and and all to realistic shortcomings. but the things they pull togetehr top do and becoem are just amazing and you weep with ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Kath rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Bryce Courtney's books and this one certainly did not disappoint. In fact I could almost say that it is one of,if not the best book that I have ever read. It is very long and has several stories rolled into one, including boxing which is one of his favourite topics, and war.
The story is of a family and is extremely humerous in parts, The last part of the book tells of the fathers life as a japanese prisoner of war and is not for the faint hearted.
As always the charecters in the book are a
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I was born illegitimately in 1933 in South Africa and spent my early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains.

It was a somewhat isolated community and I grew up among farm folk and the African people. At the age of five I was sent to a boarding school which might be better described as a combination orphanage and reform school, where I learned to box - though less
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“The thing about fires most people don’t realise is the noise. It’s deafening so even if you shout, you can’t be heard three feet away. You can never quite get used to the fury of it, it’s like a mighty roar of anger that just keeps going. I suppose flame is beautiful, the way it leaps into the air like it’s free to do what it wants. Other elements are also free and I guess the sea can be pretty awesome, wind too, and lightning, but fire has a mind and a determination. You don’t see it as a blind raging thing, which I suppose it is, but something that attacks and thinks and changes tactics. It has a malevolence that uses surprise, dirty tricks, cunning. You get to think of it as someone, not something, and it’s someone you have to beat, but right from the start you don’t like your chances because it’s so big and unpredictable and can do so much harm.” 2 likes
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